2017 Suzuki Ignis GL review
Alex Rae’s 2017 Suzuki Ignis GL Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Ignis is unique in size and style, and its retro design will be the big appeal for some – and not for others – but this value for money offering is let down by a poor safety rating.
2017 Suzuki Ignis
Price $16,990 driveaway (GL manual), $17,990 driveaway (GL automatic) Warranty three years/100,000kms Engine 1.2-litre four-cylinder Power 66kW at 6000rpm Torque 120Nm at 4400rpm Transmission five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic Drive front Dimensions 3700mm (L), 1660mm (W), 1595mm (H) Seats five Tare weight 820kg Fuel tank 32 litres Thirst 4.7L/100km (combined cycle) Fuel petrol
What is it?
It’s been 10 years since we last saw the Suzuki Ignis name and now it’s back and, as Suzuki claims, it’s created a whole new ‘light SUV’ segment. Straddling the line between hatchback and small SUV it’s not without its competitors, namely the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Mitsubishi ASX. But with a ground clearance of 180mm it rides higher than the first two while also being shorter in length than all of them.
The Ignis, at 3.7m long, is in fact shorter than hatchbacks the Mazda2 (4.0m), Ford Fiesta (3.9m) and Suzuki’s own Swift (3.8m). So it appears to be a nifty city car that can tackle weekend hiking trips.
Its pint size doesn’t sacrifice interior space and its lightweight construction – 820kg for GL – helps its small capacity 1.2-litre normally aspirated four-cylinder engine feel peppy in urban driving conditions. But the major selling point for Ignis is its aesthetics and bevy of customisation options available.
The design language of the Ignis has been developed to capture Suzuki’s automotive heritage and produce a car that is retro in appearance. Perhaps some will call it a little hipster, but Suzuki plan to move 400 units a month.
The side profile, and to some degree the front, has been influenced by the 1970s Cervo SS20, while the A pillars borrow from the Swift and the bonnet from the Vitara. Whatever the spiel the look works if funky retro is what you want.
A big part of the Ignis’ appeal is also the interior and exterior customisation. Available as options, side mirror covers and matching small colour ascents on each wheel can be changed for around $80, while the front grill and fog light surrounds can be done for about $300. The great thing is all the options are dealer fitted and there’s no waiting around, so you can update the cars look easily and affordably if you get bored of it.
The Ignis comes in two grades, GL and GLX, and the base GL gets a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reverse camera, cruise control, power windows and 15-inch steel wheels. Over the GL, the GLX gets 16-inch alloys, DRL front headlights, climate control, tinted windows, keyless push start ignition and sliding and reclining rear seats. Note this last point well – the GL rear seats do not slide or recline and so it is a five-seat car, the GLX rear seat however can slide and it is a four-seat car.
Readers question: What’s it like for the simple feat of getting in and out? The Ignis is a small car, so don’t be fooled by its claims of being ‘SUV’ like – it’s really just a hatchback which rides a bit higher than the norm. Because of this, there’s less bending down and dropping to enter the car. For those with an injury or disability, check both GL and GLX models, as the GL seat is fixed without vertical adjustment while the GLX can be manually levered higher or lower. The GL has less boot space (with the rear seats set back), more on the boot below. There’s no steering wheel reach adjustment either.
What’s it like inside?
Seats: Manual adjustment only. Rear split fold 60:40; Windows: All electric, only the driver’s side one-touch down (no auto up); Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; Connectivity: 1 USB, 1 auxiliary input; Boot space: 271 litres / 1101 litres
For such a small car, the interior feels surprisingly spacious. And it’s a well thought out layout too. What’s most appreciated is the step up in quality of materials and fitment compared to Suzuki’s other city car the Baleno. Inside the Ignis there’s no scratchy plastics and the fabric used on the seats seems like it won’t fall apart after five years, but the seats are soft. Probably too soft and without decent lumbar support for long trips.
The styling inside continues the theme set on the outside, and the centre console plastics can be colour coded to the car’s exterior paint.
The hip-point in the GL feels quite high, and heightens the small SUV feel it’s going for, but some adjustment, as found in the GLX, would be appreciated for tall people. That’s not to say there’s a lack of headroom, as the roof is quite high and extends all the way to the rear hatchback, so rear seat passengers have more headroom than found in most competitors.
The rear seat leg room is also reasonable, with enough space for a six-foot tall person to sit and not knock knees into the back of the driver’s seat. The space quickly shrinks once a rear facing baby seat is in place and there’s not much space in the boot for the rest of the gear a young family needs.
For the adventurous and childless couple, the rear seats fold down 60:40 to extended the 271 litre boot space to 1101 litres. Okay for some camping or sports gear, but the seats don’t drop into the floor so it’s still a little cramped back there.
The infotainment centre is a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity. It works very well although there’s only one USB port in the vehicle, along with one auxiliary audio input and one 12v-charging socket. The infotainment features satellite navigation and its voice recognition works well (better than most), but you might end up using your Apple or Android built-in maps anyway.
Sound quality from the relatively basic sound system was reasonable and could reach pretty high levels but, adjusting controls for the audio system can be a little annoying as it is all accessed via the touchscreen rather than traditional analogue dials.
What’s it like on the road?
The Ignis isn’t a particularly fearsome car but it’s 1.2-litre four-cylinder is nimble enough for urban driving. It only produces 66kW and 120Nm but it’s economical, and our real world testing returned 5.2L/100km in mixed driving conditions – close to the claimed 4.7L/100km.
On test was the CVT automatic, a transmission that’s largely panned, but in practice it works well enough behind the Ignis’ little engine. Nothing to worry about here. The CVT isn’t overly noisy, unlike some, and although it’s a touch slow off the start with a bit of a whirring it smooths out once cruising. It’s doesn’t do hard acceleration well, but in most instances it’s sufficient.
Inside the cabin and cruising, the Ignis is a little noisy on coarse chip roads – the cheap tyres don’t help – and as with many affordably priced cars a tyre upgrade would help. Cruise control is basic but works well although the soft support in the seats isn’t so comfortable after a couple hours driving.
Because the Ignis sits a little high it can feel top heavy when cornering and it’s traditional MacPherson strut suspension will bounce a little over carpark obstacles such as speed humps. The suspension is generally well behaved during driving however, and soaks up minor dips and ruts in the road well.
On gravel surfaces the car behaves predictably, and its steering remains accurate although it is light to turn. The ground clearance is a boon when exploring rough roads, say national parks and camping grounds, but it’s not going to take you much further afield. The GL’s higher profile tyres are also better suited to the ‘rough stuff’ than the GLX’s.
Vision from the driver’s seat is good and the reversing camera makes parking a cinch, which is also helped by a pretty tight turning circle. The Ignis has rear drum brakes but that doesn’t have much affect on its stopping power or brake pedal feel. However, the Suzuki Ignis we receive in Australia does not get autonomous electronic braking as featured in Europe (automatic braking) and that has a huge effect on the safety rating and our consequent recommendation for the Ignis.
How safe is it?
The Suzuki Ignis has not been ANCAP rated however it scored both a 3 and 5 star Euro NCAP rating in 2016. In Euro NCAP testing the base model scored 3 out of 5 stars while a model fitted with Dual Camera Brake Support (DCBS) scored 5 out of 5 stars, however, Australia will not be receiving the DCBS feature (ANCAP will adhere to Euro NCAP testing methodology from 2018, and until then tends to adopt Euro NCAP scores, so, expect the Ignis to receive a 3 Star ANCAP rating).
Safety features fitted to the Australian model Suzuki Ignis are six airbags, ABS and ESP. It also features hill hold assist and seatbelt pretensioners.
The Ignis’ three star EuroNCAP safety rating is not acceptable compared to its peers, and all competitors mentioned in this article have a five-star rating. Suzuki could introduce the European safety pack as standard to rectify the rating.
Why would you buy one?
For a small and affordable hatch/light SUV the Ignis offers good value. The infotainment system is good, and has features such as Apple Carplay, with the added bonus of a reversing camera. The interior is also above par in some aspects, although still noticeably budget friendly. On the road it’s hard to fault if you just want to get from A to B, and it’s also hard to match the styling and ‘flair’ you can achieve by customising it.